An expose by the Associated Press brought shocking news not only to those victims and their families suffering in the aftermath of the West Fertilizer company explosion in Texas last week: it’s been a revelation to many who assume that the federal government watchdog agency OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), is making sure that workplaces are safe for American Workers.
That’s right: over 20 years ago.
And it didn’t get more than a hand-slap at that point.
Now, while Mike Elk of the Washington Post points out that workplace safety, or the lack thereof, hasn’t received the media coverage it deserves since the days of Walter Cronkite and the 1968 Farmington Mine Explosion, it’s important that the American Public be aware that there are real dangers in many American work sites.
And just because your employer is legally required to obey the OSHA rules and regulations may mean little in the face of profit pressures and the grim reality that no federal inspections are realistically going to be happening, if the AP Expose of the West Fertilizer Plant means anything. It’s not like workplace danger is a big news topic, so workers can depend upon news media watchdogs to help keep employers on the up and up.
Advocates are using the West Fertilizer Company explosion as a vehicle to bring attention to this real and very serious problem in our country today. Will Congress listen? Will things change? No one can know the answers to those questions right now.
Today, the reality is that workers in Indiana and Illinois, particularly those working in dangerous lines of work like construction, mining, or on the docks, need to be aware of the dangers inherent in these jobs and take precautions to keep themselves and their co-workers safe. State inspections may help even if federal inspectors never appear.
And if there is a serious injury or wrongful death, the law does provide the legal avenue of a personal injury lawsuit for victims to seek justice. Right now, those verdicts may be the only real weapon against dangerous working conditions – given the recent AP investigative expose.